Bernard Arnault (born March 5, 1949, in Roubaix, France) is the chairman and CEO of LVMH Mot Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, the world’s largest luxury goods corporation. Arnault is a billionaire and one of the world’s wealthiest men, according to a Forbes article published recently.
Name-Bernard Jean Etienne Arnault
Born-5 March 1949
Occupation-Businessman, CEO, Art collector
Known for-Founding of LVMH.
Arnault graduated from the École Polytechnique in Paris with a degree in engineering. In 1971 he gained charge of his father’s construction enterprise Ferret-Savinel. He renamed the company Férinel Inc. and turned its concentration to real estate eight years later.
Arnault and Antoine Bernheim, a managing partner of the French bank Lazard Frères and Co., raised the $80 million needed to buy Boussac Saint-Frères, a bankrupt textile company that held the Christian Dior design brand, plus $15 million of his own money. The company’s chairman, Henri Racamier, then invited Arnault to invest in LVMH in 1987.
Arnault ousted Racamier in 1990 and began to sweep a slew of fashion companies into the LVMH fold, including Christian Lacroix, Givenchy, and Kenzo; the leather goods companies Loewe, Céline, and Berluti; the jeweler Fred Joailler; the DFS group (the world’s largest duty-free chain); and the beauty retailer Sephora, through a joint venture with Guinness PLC.
In 1995, Arnault was credited with revitalizing French couture by hiring British fashion designer John Galliano to take over the venerable Hubert de Givenchy’s Paris fashion house.
A year later, Arnault, called the “Pope of Fashion” by Women’s Wear Daily, relocated Galliano to Christian Dior and replaced him at Givenchy with the boisterous British fashion designer Alexander McQueen. The following year, Arnault appointed Marc Jacobs, a young American designer, as creative director of Louis Vuitton, a luxury leather goods company; LVMH also bought a majority stake in Jacobs’ namesake line.
By the early twenty-first century, Arnault’s design vision had reignited interest in these classic design firms.
Arnault continues to acquire luxury companies, including Fendi of Italy (2003), La Samaritaine of France (2010), Bulgari of Italy (2011), and Tiffany & Co. of the United States (2021). In the Bois de Boulogne, Paris, he also erected the Fondation Louis Vuitton (2014), a modern art museum designed by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry. Arnault was appointed Commander of the Legion of Honour in 2007, which is one of France’s highest honors.